Editor's note: As coronavirus sweeps the globe, shutting down so many entertainment options including sports, we thought this would be a good opportunity for you to get to know a little bit about us. Up today: high school beat writer David Goricki.
1. I am the youngest of five boys, Mark (criminal justice) being the oldest, followed by Paul (education, longtime principal in Florida) and then Rick (marketing/sales executive in California). My brother Steven died as an infant, at six weeks, leaving my mother to have another baby to avoid insanity, leading to me, known around the neighborhood as Baby Dave for a long, long time by the way I was looked at closely to make sure I was healthy. Yes, I could be considered a hypochondriac, a reason I work out at the Saline Recreation Center every day, feeling if I can get 40 minutes on an elliptical with my heartrate at 150, I must be OK.
2. My Dad, a World War II veteran, was a big sports fan and I followed suit. He would often talk about quarterback Bobby Layne, who led the Lions to multiple NFL championships in the ‘50s, well before the introduction of the Super Bowl.
3. I quickly got a taste of what my Lions would be like when I was 8 in 1970. The Lions opened the season with a shutout of Green Bay and ended the regular season with another shutout of the Packers to go 10-4, but that season would come to an end with a 5-0 loss in the playoffs to the Cowboys. Oh, and there was that game at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans where Errol Mann kicked a field goal with 11 seconds left to give the Lions a 17-16 lead, only to have Tom Dempsey use his sledgehammer foot — he was born without toes on his right foot — to boot a record 63-yard field goal for a 19-17 win. I left my house celebrating a win with a football in my hand after Mann’s kick, ready to play with my friend who was just five houses away. By the time I got to my friend’s house, I was telling his mom all about the Lions’ win when she broke my heart with Dempsey’s kick, something which would be duplicated again and again and again with the Lions winning just one playoff game in my lifetime … 58 years. I’m still waiting for my Bobby Layne.
4. I grew up on the eastside of Kalamazoo, went to catholic schools throughout, starting with nine years at St. Mary’s — my mom held me back in first grade — and then on to Kalamazoo Hackett. During that first-grade year, yes the one I was held back, Sister Marceline grabbed my pencil and snapped it in two because I was holding it wrong due to watching my Dad. I didn’t learn my lesson, still holding my pen and pencils the same way today.
5. I was a big Western Michigan fan growing up, went to nearly all the basketball games in 1975-76 when the Broncos — led by Jeff Tyson, Paul Griffin and Tom Cutter — were ranked No. 10 in the nation, then defeated Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament before a loss to Marquette. It was that year that my eighth-grade basketball team would travel to places like Wayland and Decatur for Saturday games and I remember listening to Indiana’s overtime win over Michigan on the bus ride back. Indiana went on to be the last team to go unbeaten that season, defeating the Wolverines in the national title game. I was the star point guard, if you could call it that, on my team that year and as far as I’m concerned Mike Hinga’s best athlete until Derek Jeter came around to play baseball for him with the Kalamazoo Maroons.
6. I graduated from Western Michigan … sure, it took a couple more years than what it takes normal people, and I was a broadcaster for the student-based radio station WIDR, doing play-by-play for football, hockey and basketball. After getting offers from COSY Radio in South Haven — afternoon disc jockey job, operations director and play-by-play man for high school sports — and sports editor of the Coldwater Daily Reporter in June 1987, I took the Daily Reporter job after being told I couldn’t commute from Kalamazoo for the COSY job. I was newly married and my wife, Becky, didn’t want to move, so I took the job at Coldwater and learned the business.
7. No doubt, you learn a lot when you’re a one-man show as a sports editor of a small town, covering a handful of high schools who are big fans of their sports teams. Getting up a 5 in the morning, then writing stories and getting the paper out is a big chore, especially on Fridays when you also have to cover football or basketball games at night, then get Saturday’s paper out before 1 in the morning before riding home. Luckily, those rumble strips on the highway kept me alive, waking me up to get home and end those 18-hour days.
8. It was during my time in Coldwater when my love for motor sports grew. My Dad was a counterman at an automotive store and would get tickets for NASCAR races at Michigan International Speedway during the 1970s and it was then when I became a fan, also listening to the radio to keep tabs of the Indianapolis 500s during Memorial Day weekend.
9. Our big star in Coldwater was IndyCar driver Scott Brayton. I enjoyed my time heading to the Brayton family’s sand and gravel business on the Wednesday prior to the race and talking for hours to preview the race. Scott and his father Lee yelled out answers — hard of hearing from years of being at the track — with Scott’s momma, Jean, the business’ bookkeeper, just smiling while shaking her head. Scotty truly knew how lucky he was to be an IndyCar driver, no one loved his job more than he did. Brayton won back-to-back poles for the Indy 500 in 1995 and 1996 before dying tragically during practice just days before the 1996 500.
10. I will never forget that ride with Dale Earnhardt during a NASCAR luncheon event to promote a race at MIS in 1992. Earnhardt gave media members a ride around the track in the pace car. After a lap around and me sitting in silence with my helmet on, Earnhardt said, “Do you have any questions?” Well, it was bumpy, like really bumpy, so I asked, “Is it as bumpy in your race car like it is right now?” Well, that wasn’t a smart move. Earnhardt grabbed his hand from the wheel and flipped it over, then did the same thing the other way as we slid side to side and said, “Feel that, it’s twice as bad in our race cars!” He let me out of the car with lunch soon to be served, walked me behind the car and said, “Whoa, we could have had some trouble there,” pointing to a screw which was an inch from the tire as he started laughing while watching my legs buckle.
11. It was during my six years at Coldwater when Becky delivered our triplet boys, Alex, Adam and Austin in June 1993. To this day I believe "Everybody Loves Raymond" was my idea and will never be persuaded otherwise. After all, I found out David Letterman was at MIS during the August race in 1995 to possibly become co-owners with Bobby Rahal’s IndyCar team, handing a person at his motorhome a script. I had written a 10-page sitcom called "Triple Trouble and Then Some," obviously the Triple Trouble part was the triplets and the Then Some being Becky. Well, a year later came "Everybody Loves Raymond" from Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company. The sitcom was about a sportswriter with a crazy family, and my brother Mark, once a prison guard, had me in the yard at Jackson Prison while I was a senior in high school as a prank with his prison guard friend jumping on him from behind while pretending to be a prisoner. And, my Dad, well he took his car in the backyard with the exhaust pipe over a gopher hole to try and solve the problem. Crazy … you bet.
12. In September 1995 while covering a Western Michigan football game in Kalamazoo, I talked to The News sportswriter Jim Spadafore who was covering the same game. He told me The News had a couple openings, one for a position for a new high school section called HomeGames and told me to contact his boss, Phil Laciura, scratching his number on a napkin. A month later I got the job and would cover high school and college sports, then several Frozen Fours, the Stanley Cup Finals, the Super Bowl and World Series.
13. I found out how great and cruel life can be in a matter of days while covering the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. I had to get quick comments on feelings of players after the Red Wings won the Cup, following Vladimir Konstantinov in the locker room. I stood behind Konstantinov who lifted the Cup and took a swig of champagne with it splashing on me. He suddenly stopped, took a look to his right and said, “You! You!” looking out of the corner of his eye at Jeff Daniels who was smoking a cigar. Daniels smiled and replied: “Yes, Dumb and Dumber!” as Konstantinov jumped up and down, taking another swig. It was less than two weeks later when I had just finished with my workout at the Saline Rec Center, walked downstairs and was behind … Konstantinov, who this time was in a wheelchair from the result of a severe head injury suffered in the limousine accident which was bringing him, along with teammates, from a party. Still to this day nothing compares.
14. I’ve had the pleasure to cover several Frozen Fours, including my first in 1997 in Milwaukee. It was the night before the national semifinal games and I was at the hotel bar at the Hyatt watching the Red Wings play the Avalanche. It was the game when Darren McCarty pummeled Claude Lemieux in retaliation of Lemieux’s brutal hit on Kris Draper from the previous year when Draper suffered a broken jaw, broken cheekbone, broken nose and concussion. As Lemieux turtled his body to avoid further damage Ron Mason and Jeff Jackson, sitting across from me, yelled together, “Turtle, Turtle,” smiling like they were school kids. I just looked on and smiled while watching a pair of coaching legends enjoy the fight.
15. Taking the kids to work day, or it just so happened to be when I couldn’t find a sitter and had to interview a few Michigan players after practice at Yost Arena to preview the 1998 Frozen Four. The triplets were four, or almost five when they made their way up and down the bleachers as practice was closing. They came back to me all chewing gum. I knew I didn’t get them gum so where did they get it? “Under the bleachers,” they said in unison, adding “You wouldn’t believe how much there is!” Well, we went to a room where I could interview All-American goalie Marty Turco who was sitting in a chair. I asked him a question, grabbed my notebook to scribble his responses as he started laughing. I thought to myself, that wasn’t a funny question and asked him another, only to get another laugh. It was then when I looked up at him and Marty pointed downward to where Adam was sitting under his chair and tickling his feet. Yes, that was just a glimpse of my life both on the job and off of it, an incredible journey of memories for two-plus decades.